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Northern Mariana Islands

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Politics and government of
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The Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Legislature is the territorial legislature of the U.S. commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The legislative branch of the territory is bicameral, consisting of a 20-member lower House of Representatives, and an upper house Senate with nine Senators. Both Representatives and Senators serve two-year terms without term limits. The territorial legislature meets in the commonwealth capital of Saipan.

Similar to the United States Congress, the Senate seats are divided into three districts (three seats each) whose "boundaries" are identical to those of the municipalities (except that the barely inhabited Northern Islands is incorporated with Saipan), and the House seats are divided according to population, with one seat each for Rota and Tinian and the rest belong to Saipan (with one of the districts including the Northern Islands).


The modern legislature was created under Secretarial Order No. 2989 by federal Interior Secretary Thomas S. Kleppe effective April 1, 1976, replacing the less autonomous Mariana Islands District Legislature. The cabinet-level order reorganized local government in the commonwealth to reflect its greater self-government, which had established a political union with the United States in the previous year under a public plebiscite.

The Commonwealth was officially established in January 1978, and as the constitution prescribed, the first House of Representatives had 14 members (12 from Saipan). Over the years, as permitted by the constitution, House membership was increased to 20 (18 from Saipan) beginning with the 16th Legislature in 2008.

The Northern Mariana Islands' election calendar is quite unique in that general elections are held in odd-numbered years. Until the recent 2008 election of the first ever non-voting delegate to the U.S. Congress, there was no election at all in November of even-numbered years like everywhere else in the United States.

e • d  Summary of the 3 November 2007 Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Legislature election results
Parties Seats
House Senate
Republican Party 12
Covenant Party 4 1
Independent 3 2
Democratic Party 1
Not up for election 6
Total 20 9
Source: Marianas Variety

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